I've been sitting at the computer for an hour trying to decide if I write a blog today. The top of mind awareness on Facebook has been all about two fairly different things lately. Ferguson and the ALS ice bucket challenge. I have opinions on both (shocking I know) but what is the point in adding more noise to the discussion?
I can top line them for you.
ALS has received millions of dollars in donations they didn't have before. If you want to dump ice water over your head and encourage others to do so, get down with your bad self. And then write that check. That's about it. Really. Okay, well, I mean there is more, there is my reaction to people who are mad about it. "It's vain. It's slacktivism, it's a waste of water, it's not really charity if you tell people about it." To all of that I say, as politely as I can, oh shut the fuck up. You do you and let them do them. And if they want to make a silly video before they donate then why do you care? And if you are worried about people just drawing attention to themselves and not donating I ask, what did you do? You know, before you posted about how awful people were about drawing attention to themselves and not donating? How much did you give? None of my business? Oh..yeah...exactly.
The Ferguson issue. I wrote about it a little bit last week. Your opinion on it really depends on where you are coming from to start. Which is actually a problem. Because people aren't willing to even entertain the other point of view. And if you aren't willing to listen to hear then you aren't really listening, you are just waiting your turn to talk. I have friends who are cops. So I know for a hard, stone cold, fact that there are good guys and gals out there serving. I also have friends who have had issues with bad cops so I know that the bad guys are out there as well. I know that color does have something to do with how you are treated, not just by the police but by society at large, and if you think that I'm wrong well, I think you are naive. Not every interaction, don't be obtuse, but a lot of them.
My more libertarian friends have been preaching the gospel of overly militarized police for years. Now every one is seeing it. And I have to wonder if maybe the money that has been spent on equipement would be better spent on dash cameras and body cameras. There are a lot of studies out that show you behave better if you know you are being watched. It's sort of the old adage that if all you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail. If you are dressed in full military gear every place starts to look like a war zone.
I come from a city where the police have recently been investigated by the DOJ because the culture had become an "us against them" problem. There should never be an us and them situation with the police. They are us. When that happens, when you see things like the officer recorded in Ferguson calling the protesters animals, well something is very very wrong. And the number of officer to civilian shootings in Albuquerque should be a warning to police forces all across the country. Make sure your culture is not us and them but we.
But what do I really have to add to the discussion right now that is constructive? That is useful? That can change things?
So I will wait and watch quietly (ish, I realized this is getting awfully long to really count as quiet) to see what happens. I will hope for calmer heads. I will hope that when you are reading stories about it, or watching reporting on it, you try to understand not just what you are seeing but what you are being shown. For instance yesterday I was on the treadmill during the news conference about the autopsy. CNN on one side, FoxNews on the other. CNN showed the conference. Fox kept split screening to one of the more thuggish pictures of Micheal Brown. So what were you seeing and what were they trying to show you? During the looting a few nights ago I saw a few stories about the citizens of Ferguson standing guard over stores to make sure they weren't robbed. Very few. It wasn't as sensational as showing and talking about rioting and looting. What are you seeing and what are you being shown? There were pictures out over the weekend of officers talking with the people protesting. Laughing. There had to be more of those out there, but how many of you saw them? Not as sensational as a cop pointing a gun at someone right?
I will ask that you keep in mind that someone can say that they believe the police are doing the best they can without them automatically being a racist. I will ask that you keep in mind that being worried about the militarization of our local police forces doesn't mean you are anti-cop. I for one think that Micheal Brown wasn't a good guy. But I don't think he deserved to die because of it. I also believe that the protests that sprung up after his shooting show that there has been a long simmering issue in Ferguson and this just tossed it over the top. That what he was or was not isn't really the point. It's not this one cop and that one guy. There is more to see than what we've been shown.
Life is a big picture. Remember to look at all of it.